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Hidden Scripts

The Social Evolution of Alterman's “Don't You Give Them Guns”

Efrat Ben-Ze'ev

Nathan Alterman's poem “Don't You Give Them Guns” echoed European post–World War I anti-war literature. Curiously, the poem turned into a key text in a ritual instituted by members of the elite Jewish underground fighting force, the Palmach, which was established during World War II. This article is an attempt to understand how a pacifist poem came to be used by Jewish-Israeli soldiers at the heart of the 1948 War of Independence. In terms of theory, the analysis dwells on the relations between text and social context, arguing that alternative social ideas conceal themselves in poetry and other literary forms. These texts can be likened to undercurrents that preserve hidden social concerns. To follow the changing role of such texts, the article considers the fate of “Don't You Give Them Guns” from its birth in 1934 to its later manifestations in the early twenty-first century.

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After our Winter 2013 special issue, which contained 17 articles focusing intently on all (or almost all) aspects of the family in Israel, we have changed lenses and are presenting quite a bit of variety in this issue. We start off with Efrat Ben-Ze’ev’s provocative article “Hidden Scripts: The Social Evolution of Alterman’s ‘Don’t You Give Them Guns,’” which investigates the transformation in meaning of that single phrase in Israeli society as a whole, but particularly the poem’s significance in the annual commemoration ceremony held by a specific Palmach unit. It is a fascinating exploration of meaning using the tools of an anthropologist.

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War and Memory

The Israeli Communist Commemoration of the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1986

Amir Locker-Biletzki

as the Spanish war myth was disseminated in the West, local Communists in Palestine/Israel also used poems as a way to convey aspects of the war. The Poets of the War Myth The Spanish Civil War penetrated into the lives of Communists in Palestine

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Hillel Cohen

the Rock] stands on our most sacred land, the place of the Temple, on the skull of the nation,” cried the poet Uri Zvi Greenberg in 1924 , adding in a poem ( Molcho 1924 ): Your head is gone Your head has been splattered A mosque has been attached to

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Hebrew Literature in the ‘World Republic of Letters’

Translation and Reception, 1918–2018

Yael Halevi-Wise and Madeleine Gottesman

translations or target languages. A few of S. Y. Agnon’s works were published in German, Hungarian, Italian, and Swedish when there was a strong local presence of European Jews reading in those languages. Likewise, selected poems by Bialik appeared in a dozen

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Rebranding Desolation

The Allure of Israel’s Desert Landscapes

Amelia Rosenberg Weinreb

and Judean deserts), but all of the Land of Israel ( Zerubavel 2009: 34 ). After pouring over diaries, journals, and poems, historian Boaz Neumann (2011: 79) compiled the following terms concerning the physical perception of the land during this period

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Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Refugees

Ideology, Morality, and Praxis

Yossi Goldstein

investigate the matter and punish those responsible, for others to see and hear” (BGD, 10 November 1948). He also instructed the Histadrut newspaper Davar to publish Nathan Alterman's (1948) poem “For This” (Al Zot), which denounced the “Jewish public

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Yoram Peri

-Dov, when the Ministry of Defense published the poems of Nathan Alterman (1974) and gave that volume to bereaved families, Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense, wrote the following in his spine-chilling introduction: “Death is not the end of battle, but

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From Jewish Sentiments to Rational Exhortations

Battle Missives in the Israel Defense Forces

Netta Galnoor

, obligating the living to continue with their lives after the death of their loved ones, as expressed in Bialik's (n.d.) poem: “They died that we might live.” Until roughly the late 1970s, the legitimacy of sacrifice was generally high in Israel, operating

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“Where Is the New Constitution?”

Public Protest and Community-Building in Post–Economic Collapse Iceland

Timothy Heffernan

government and recite poems that showcased Icelanders’ proud oratory culture, particularly on issues relating to the integrity of the country's one-thousand-year-old parliament (since 930 CE). As one of the longest continuing parliamentary democracies in the